Those of us who function best on a gluten-free diet find we have to be a little more intentional about how we stock our pantry. I want to share with you the ingredients I’ve found to have the most pleasant flavors and textures for whole food gluten-free cooking. With these “staples” on hand you will find you have everything you need to make pretty much all of the recipes you find posted on my blog and in my cookbooks. Be sure to buy in quantity, so you don’t find yourself constantly restocking!
Six Basic Gluten-free Whole Grain Flours
Brown rice flour has a neutral flavor and nice texture. It is a staple ingredient in many recipes. Because it can be gritty if not adequately hydrated, it’s beneficial to presoak the brown rice flour with wet ingredients, if time allows.
Sorghum flour has a fairly neutral flavor and yet a finer texture than brown rice flour. It combines especially well with corn, naturally complementing the corn flavor.
Light buckwheat flour has a slight distinct flavor but is highly nutritious and adds nice texture, so it is great to add a small portion to most recipes. I grind mine in a blender from raw hulled buckwheat groats.
Teff flour has great texture, but because it has a distinct flavor (pleasant, yet only suitable for certain applications) and has limited availability, it is only included selectively in recipes.
Certified gluten-free oats contribute “warmth”, sweetness, and heartiness plus good nutrition to baked goods. Some people have difficulty with even GF oats, so I use it selectively.*
Cornmeal/Corn flour adds nice flavor and texture to baked goods. We especially like it in breads that will be toasted as well as added to pizza crust. Again, some people have sensitivities to this ingredient, however, so it is only included occasionally. We prefer blue over yellow.*
*because corn and even gluten-free oats can be problematic for some people, I share a variety of recipes with and without these ingredients.
Whole Grains for Gluten-free Baking
- Brown rice (medium to long grain for “blender” recipes)
- Gluten-free rolled oats and/or steel-cut oats
- Raw hulled buckwheat groats
- Whole sorghum
- Whole millet
- Whole teff
Enhancers for Whole Food Gluten-free Baking
- Raw apple cider vinegar
- Flax seed or chia seed (ground and mixed with water as a binding agent, much like eggs)
- Nut meal (almond, hazelnut, pecan)- only used occasionally, in small portions, to add richness to a recipe
- Leavening– baking powder, baking soda
- Fat/oils– olive oil, coconut oil
- Sweeteners– honey, maple syrup, bananas, applesauce, dried fruit
General Pantry Staples for Gluten-free Cooking
Whole grains– for use in side dishes, hot cereal, puddings, salads, etc.
brown rice, rolled/steel cut oats, buckwheat kasha, millet, quinoa and cornmeal (for grits/polenta)
Beans/legumes– in whole or flour form- for making bean/lentil cakes (as a bread/pita substitute)
lentils, chana dal, gram flour, etc.
INGREDIENTS I’VE DISMISSED FROM MY PANTRY
– ones I’ve chose to not use in my gluten-free baking recipes –
Amaranth– hard to come by, hard to grind, gooey texture, a bit bitter
Millet flour– very dry, is slightly bitter/has a “bite”. This grain is related to sorghum, so if you have millet flour on hand you might want to try how it works used in place of sorghum in a recipe or two. I haven’t had great success with it myself.
Quinoa– too moist and the flavor is not complementary to baked goods (in my opinion). Seems a bit bitter in flour form.
Bean/legume flours– personally, I find the “beany” flavor comes through too strongly used in gluten-free baked goods
Coconut flour – not a whole food
potato starch/corn starch, etc.- partialized foods. I’m pretty much a stickler about whole foods.
Tapioca starch/flour – partialized food, can be kind of “slimy”
Xantham gum and other gums – most are not whole foods (xantham gum, no surprise, is not even from the earth) and tend to be costly. They don’t seem like the most natural of ingredients, so I don’t use them in my recipes. I have found ground flax seed and ground chia seed to produce satisfactory binding (with exceptional nutritional contributions) in my gluten free baked goods.
Check out some of my time-saving gluten-free baking tips.
For more great cooking tips that make gluten-free recipes easy, get a copy of this great book.